University of Adelaide

Steve Evans



angels without portfolio
Miroslav Holub

it's the little things you notice
they wear ordinary clothes
but hum next year's hit song
sometimes forget about gravity
stepping too lightly from the kerb
they may have difficulty with
the concept of money
giving the shopkeeper change
or speak a language you've
never heard but somehow understand

angels can't drive
or remember jokes
they have trouble with shoelaces
and instructions on the backs of packets
they may compliment you
on your shoulder blades

some gone feral are sleeping rough
and hanging out on street corners
talking tough
helpless as dumped kittens
they kiss like Brigitte Bardot
and follow you home
but you can't keep them
not even the fallen ones

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arriving late
you're steered to a room
alive still with the smell of urine
and cigarettes

the shower's a drizzle
and the towel abrasive as steel wool
on the bedside table there's
an ashtray stolen from another hotel
an electric jug and tea-bag
but no cup
the TV bolted to the wall
has one fuzzy channel
the bed's a squeaking valley
the three tissues in the dispenser
will be counted in the morning

bored, you read the Bible
at least there's still a Bible
though someone has underlined passages
and torn out the Song of Solomon
the closest you were going to get
to sex or poetry

at five in the morning
another argument in the next room
above the noise of the plumbing
you lie back and watch the moon
white against a winter sky
same moon over a house you left
where light will soon
spill from a kitchen window
tea leaves cast a sodden arc
onto a rose bush
and a table cloth float down

another breakfast and early departure
back on the road
past the unopened shops
and into a flatness of paddocks
that will come to midday's
shimmering ambiguities
as if uncertain what shape to take

you will enter them freely
losing yourself
thinning to air

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skin the brown snake left
a lost stocking on the road

skin of the leopard
its spots dark lipstick prints

skin of my father
the crude tattoo he hides

skin of the water
rounded in my drinking glass

skin of the garfish
soft blue metal

skin of the bee
a small suede pelt

skin of the peach
cousin to the bee

skin of the rose
your curved lips pouting

we come to each other
in the skin of animals
someone else inside us

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to Saint Casper
patron saint of those trying
to start an old mongrel car
thank you

to Saint Julio
who watches over those easily
confounded by household devices
clothes driers
vacuum cleaners
my usual blessings

to Saint Felicity
guardian of birth control
have mercy upon me

to Saint Ira
protector of matching socks
Saint Whoever You Are
responsible for warding off
traffic jams
broken laces
burst zips
I've invoked you all

but I'm caught here
shaving at the morning mirror
where there is no grace
no resort
or fallback argument
and of the armies of saints
none dares help me

how easily we are
ruined by mirrors

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straight from the fridge
the plum softens in the bowl
blue as a bruise

a finger touched to
its frosted skin
leaves a purple print
between the lingering
jewellery of condensation's

I roll its dark curve
across your own
before we bite
something's wet
and delicious here

part of it's not you

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letter from G.C. Beaton

Editors: Nigel Krauth & Tess Brady
APRIL 1997